902SquashEd Creates Opportunity Through Sport

By Ameeta Vohra



SaltWire Network



Horton High School teacher James Wiseman regularly plays squash with Janet MacLeod. One day when they were playing, Wiseman, who teaches an Afro-centric cohort of students, had an idea he discussed with MacLeod. “He felt that they (the students) would benefit from playing squash,” she said. “He was very instrumental in bringing the kids to the court, just saying, ‘Come play. You don’t need to know anything. I’ll help you,’ and so it evolved from that. He would bring kids who had never played on the courts, or students who had never even heard of the game before.” What evolved was the formation eight months ago of 902SquashEd, a non-profit based in the Valley region of the province. With funding from Squash Canada, 902SquashEd introduces Afro-centric, Indigenous, and minority students to the sport. It also provides opportunities for students to participate in camps, compete in tournaments, and gain valuable life skills. “It’s to provide the game of squash to kids and get them active and playing in the sport that they’re traditionally not visible,” she said. “Another goal is to learn all the life skills that go with learning a sport, getting healthy, active, some resilience, and problem-solving. We also would like to help them in their studies and give them leadership opportunities.” MacLeod, president of the non-profit board and coach developer, says the programming aims to give middle and high school students accessibility to the sport. It is based on Squash Education Alliance NCA, a program that originated in the United States. “Their vision is similar to ours, which is empowering students through sports and education,” she says. MacLeod hopes 902SquashEd can expand its programming, but that depends on added sponsorship and more court availability. The nonprofit learned it will not be receiving any more funding through the Sport For All grant because it no longer fits the criteria. While MacLeod says it’s disappointing, 902SquashEd continues to fundraise, apply for grants, and search for sponsors. “It’s not just helping them play squash, it’s also giving them opportunities to give back, whether it’s some sort of community service or leadership.”